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Trump attorney who organized fake electors plot in Wisconsin pleads guilty in Georgia

Kenneth Chesebro was charged alongside 18 others with violating Georgia's anti-racketeering law

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro
Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, appears before Judge Scott MacAfee during a motions hearing on Oct. 10, 2023, in Atlanta. Chesebro has pleaded guilty to a felony just as jury selection was getting underway in his trial on charges accusing him of participating in efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in Georgia’s 2020 election. Chesebro was charged alongside the Republican ex-president and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law. Alyssa Pointer/AP File Photo

Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer who authored memos detailing how Republicans could send false slates of presidential electors from states including Wisconsin to Congress, has pleaded guilty in the Georgia election interference case that charged him and 18 others.

Chesebro pleaded guilty Friday to one felony count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

Jury selection for his trial had been slated to begin Friday. Chesebro, who requested a speedy trial in the case, had been set to go to trial alongside attorney Sidney Powell, but she also took a plea deal on Thursday.

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Chesebro was charged in the Georgia case with seven felony counts, including racketeering.

According to the indictment, one memo he wrote “provides detailed, state-specific instructions for how (former President Donald) Trump presidential elector nominees in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin would meet and cast electoral votes” for Trump, even though he lost the election in those states.

Wisconsin played a prominent role in Chesebro’s plan, which he shared with Trump’s lead Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis, days after the 2020 presidential election.

“It may seem odd that the electors pledged to Trump and Pence might meet and cast their votes on December 14 even if, at that juncture, the Trump-Pence ticket is behind in the vote count, and no certificate of election has been issued in favor of Trump and Pence,” Chesebro wrote in 2020. “However, a fair reading of the federal statutes suggests that this is a reasonable course of action.”

On that date, 10 Republicans posing as electors met at the Wisconsin Capitol and cast votes for Trump despite election results showing Democrat Joe Biden won the state. Biden’s victory was affirmed by state and federal courts.

Trump lost to Biden in the state by nearly 21,000 votes. The number changed little after the Trump campaign requested a recount of ballots in the Democratic strongholds of Dane and Milwaukee counties.

A trial date for the Georgia case’s other co-defendants, including Trump, has not been set.

Wisconsin’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has declined to say whether he’s investigating Wisconsin’s fake electors or any of the attorneys associated with the Trump campaign’s efforts. In response to a Wisconsin Public Radio request for comment Friday on whether the Georgia plea changes things in Wisconsin, a state Department of Justice spokesperson said the “DOJ isn’t going to weigh in on that.”

Meanwhile, a civil suit against those Republicans and two of his attorneys, including Chesebro, is working its way through Dane County Circuit Court. It seeks up to $2.4 million in damages from the defendants, alleging they were part of a conspiracy by Trump and allies to overturn his loss in the 2020 election. Law Forward, a Madison-based group of progressive attorneys, is representing Democrats in the case. In response to Friday’s guilty plea, staff counsel Scott Thompson told WPR the “coordinated and deliberate effort to subvert the will of the voters must not happen again.”

“Thankfully, we are beginning to see that those who seek to subvert our democracy will be held to account for their actions,” Thompson said. “As we continue to pursue civil accountability for Mr. Chesebro in Wisconsin, we welcome his decision to plead guilty in Georgia.”

A jury trial in the Wisconsin civil suit against Chesebro and other Republicans is scheduled for September.